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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beet Chocolate Muffins and Cupcakes

Beet Chocolate Muffins and Beet Chocolate Cupcakes
Beet Chocolate Cupcake

Muffins are gluten free, egg free, sugar free and dairy free
Cupcakes are gluten free, egg free and dairy free

Surprisingly, every step of baking these beet chocolate muffins and cupcakes offers some form of sensual delight.  From the smell of baking beets, to the bright red batter, to the earthy and naturally sweet flavour of a bite of beet muffin, these beautiful baked beet goods offer something to engage your senses. The best part of these - you don't even have to like beets to enjoy the end result. 

I'm so thrilled I persisted in trying to make some baked goods out of the beets I picked up at the Dane County Farmers Market last weekend.  I always try to eat as much local produce as possible (support the local economy, avoid GM foods and chemical products, yay planet, etc) and beets are one of the few things available right now.  I like baked beets all on their own, and usually toss a few in a green salad, or a smoothie.  But my wonderful partner does not share my love of beets.  I wanted to find a way for us to enjoy beets together, and for him to enjoy their wonderful health benefits.

Beets have powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and detoxification vitamins and nutrients.  They have been shown to reduce tumor growth and may help prevent certain forms of cancer.  They may even be better for your eyes than carrots. 

Beet muffin
After much searching on the internet at other recipes, I decided to concoct my own beet muffins and cupcakes.  Some of the recipes looked fantastic, but I like to cut down on sugar and oil as much as possible, and I often substitute applesauce for most of the oil and sugar in recipes.  For the muffins, I cut out the sugar completely and used honey instead.  The first time I made these, they were very tasty, but the texture was off - too gummy.  I was a bit too liberal with the applesauce in my zeal for optimal health!  The second time, I cut back a bit on the applesauce and added more flour.  As a testament to their tastiness, my fiance had 6 muffins from the first batch, and 3 from the second...

I make my own applesauce to use in baking and smoothies (I will post a tutorial on this in the near future) as this is a healthy alternative to oil and sugar, and for people with oral allergy syndrome it's a great way to enjoy the benefits of apples without the allergic reaction, as the canning process destroys the allergens.  I make my applesauce sugar free too.  I don't see any reason to put sugar - or worse, corn syrup as some companies do - in a product that is naturally sweet.  So when choosing applesauce for this recipe, look for sugar free varieties.

As for whether these are a cupcake or a muffin, that's up to you.  They are great as healthy, tasty muffins for breakfast and snacks, but if you want to sweeten them up for kids or for a dessert add the icing and make them cupcakes instead!  If you want to make the icing pink, as shown, reserve one slice of baked beet to use in the icing. 
Using a hand blender for a lovely red batter

Ingredients (makes 15 muffins or cupcakes)

Wet Stuff
1.5 Tbsp ground flax seed (flax seed meal)

4.5 Tbsp water

1/4 c oil (your choice, canola, coconut, etc)
3/4 c applesauce*
1/4 c honey
Using a blender (messy version)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 c pureed beets (or approximately 2 beets, baked for 1 hour at 350F, peeled and roughly mashed)

Dry Stuff
1c brown or white rice flour
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c potato starch
1 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/4 Tbsp baking power
5 Tbsp cocoa
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers or spray with oil. 

2. Mix ground flax seed with water and allow to sit until gelled, about 5 - 10 minutes.  

3.  In the meantime, in a large bowl or blender, combine the oil and applesauce.  Blend with a hand blender, or blender (a messier and harder clean up), until creamy, about 2 minutes. 

4.  Add honey, vanilla and beets.  Blend until smooth.  Add the flax mixture and blend again.

5.  In a medium size bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add to wet ingredients (if using blender add wet to dry). 

6. With a spoon, fill muffins tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 25 minutes.

*It's important to let these cool completely before eating.  They will be slightly gummy at first, but will improve in texture after cooling. 

Unfortunately, I had a hard time making the icing sugar free.  I tried with using honey instead of sugar, but wasn't happy with the texture.  Alas, I will try again in the future, but as is, here is a dairy free icing.

3 Tbsp dairy free margarine
1 c icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp water
1 slice of baked beet

 1. Add all ingredients except the beet slice to a bowl and blend with a hand blender until smooth and somewhat stiff (add more sugar as necessary).
2.  After beating, add the beet slice and stir in, mashing a little to get the juice out to colour the icing.  Once coloured, remove the beet slice.  Or, if desired, chop the beet slice finely and just mix in to the icing.
3. Refrigerate icing for 10 minutes to stiffen, then decorate cupcakes with a thin layer of icing.  Decorate as desired.

Do you bake with beets?  I'd love to hear your ideas!   

*OAS Info: Apples are a common OAS food.  The process of boiling and canning applesauce usually renders it safe for folks with OAS to eat.  However, if you are very allergic and in doubt, substitute the applesauce with oil instead. 

This recipe is linked to the following sites:

AllergyFreeWednesdays Monday Meals Gluten-Free Wednesdays


  1. What an extraordinary recipe! I first thought it was some type of 'Red Velvet' recipe until I saw the word 'beet'. I just started using beets in recipes at the end of summer last year, and this year am planning on how to make 'beet sugar'. I have never imagined using it in baked goods. This sound wonderful and I can't wait to give it a try!
    Thank you for leaving your link at 'Made From Scratch' Monday.

  2. may want to add the Made From Scratch link at the bottom of your recipe so others can participate if they wish to. It makes it so much easier for others to find it :)

    1. Thanks Mary! Link added above - sorry about that, I added your site to my links page but not to the recipe. Thanks for doing the recipe exchange, it's a fantastic idea!

  3. I have been wanting to try a beet/chocolate combo and have some beets to give it a whirl! beets are not my favorite thing...but I know they got lots of goodies for me and my sneaking them in sounds like a great idea to me! thanks for sharing with us at AFW!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tessa. You won't really taste the beets in this, especially if you put icing on, or throw in a few chocolate chunks - my fiance won't eat beets but he ate a bunch of these, and he's not even gluten free! And thanks again for hosting the link up!


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